You are on page 1of 4

What were the expected conventions of the Classical

Concerto first movement and how did Haydn, Mozart and


Beethoven develop these in their writing?
The Classical Concerto is a piece of music composed for a
virtuoso soloist, accompanied by an orchestra and was written to
feature the musical skills of the soloist. It was developed and
became popular in the classical period from 1750-1830. A
concerto is typically three movements, with the first being fast,
the second being slow, and the third being fast.
The first movement was usually the longest, and uses a variant of
sonata form. A normal sonata is made up of an exposition,
followed by a development, and a recapitulation. However, the
first movement of a concerto uses what is called a double
exposition. This means that the first section of the movement is
played twice, first by the orchestra alone, followed by the soloist
accompanied by the orchestra. As well as this a cadenza is used.
A cadenza is a moment in a concerto where the soloist plays
without accompaniment.
After establishing the base conventions of the Classical Concerto
it is easier to compare the developments Haydn Mozart and
Beethoven made. Firstly, the most obvious comparison is there
size. Haydn's 1st Concerto in C for Violin is the earliest of the 3
and its performance time is roughly 10minutes. Mozart expanded
this with his Clarinet concerto in A Major K662 making it 14
minutes, and Beethoven took it to new lengths, with his Emperor
concerto for piano, reaching 20 minutes in play time! This
expansion led to more material being played, with new keys being
explored within the music, giving the composers the larger canvas
with which to paint their musical genius across.
Using this expanded length Beethoven and Mozart started to
expand and develop the structure of the concerto. In Haydn's
concerto, the solo sections and the orchestral sections had a
roughly similar length and ratio, giving a good balance to have
orchestral prescience within the piece, but opportunity for the
soloist to strut their stuff. However, Mozart started to expand the
soloist sections in the piece, and making up the piece a lot more
of solo sections. These solo sections were well over the time that
the orchestra played within the piece, and made up and
developed most of the development that happened with in the
piece. Beethoven in classic Beethoven fashion took it to the next
level, by introducing the Cadenza. A cadenza is when the soloist
played without any kind of accompanied, as a complete solo
section. Beethoven does this in such a way that the soloist can
play rubato, and within their own time. As well as this, most
performances are now conducted by the pianist, meaning they
have complete control over the time of the solo.
Within the cadenzas, Beethoven wrote extremely difficult virtuosic
sections for the soloist. These include long semi-quaver runs, with
quintuplets, and runs that use the full range of the piano.
Beethoven's concerto was by far had the most development in
the complexity of its solos.
Beethoven also expanded the structure of the piece and
developed it in ways not done before. He did this by instead of
just having the orchestral exposition followed by the solo
exposition, he introduced the soloist having its own introduction.
This changed the dynamic of the concerto massively, as instead
of the orchestra introducing its self, followed by the soloist playing
relatable material to seamlessly transfer into the solo sections,
but Beethoven has taken it to the next level by introducing the
piano in its own virtuosic manner, making it extremely present
from the beginning, showing that as the concerto developed the
solo player became a lot more important.
Not only did the soloist expand in its presence, the orchestra
expanded to add to this. Haydn's small string ensemble, with the
addition of 2 horns and 2 oboes gave the standard of the concerto
being a small occasion of not many instruments. Mozart expanded
this a small amount with more woodwind, including flute, bassoon
and clarinet. With the expanded woodwind section, Mozart could
create more contrast of timbre within the piece to play with the
different instrumentation, and establishing different sections and
different themes by selecting certain instruments. Beethoven,
being Beethoven, expanded the orchestra hugely. Adding 2 flutes,
2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trombones and
timpani, with the addition of the solo Piano. This meant the
orchestra had a huge range of timbres with the ability to create
complex chords within small amount of sounds due to the large
number of parts. It also paved the way for more complex harmony
being created.
Within Haydn's concerto, the keys he explore are closley related
and not to crazy. As the piece is in C major, he visits A minor, C
minor, G major and F major, all of which are keys that would
conventionally be visited within that period. Mozart also sticks to
the keys that conventionally would be visited, with the piece
being in A major and going to E major. However, with Beethoven's
ever expansive ideas, he explores very distant keys. Starting in Eb
major and visiting almost every key, creating extreme
development within the themes and going too far and distance
sounds that were un-heard developments in Beethoven's time.
In conclusion, with the passing of time, the orchestra, harmony,
structure and length all developed and got longer, creating more
space and musical protentional to create more virtuosic pieces,
with more exciting and imaginative endeavors into music.
http://study.com/academy/lesson/classical-concerto-definition-
form-quiz.html